www.wvgazettemail.com U.S. and World http://www.wvgazettemail.com Gazette archive feed en-us Copyright 2017, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers Millions flock to perfect eclipse path, clogging traffic along the way http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170821/GZ0113/170829942 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170821/GZ0113/170829942 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 15:30:30 -0400 By Ashley Halsey III The Washington Post By By Ashley Halsey III The Washington Post They came from everywhere, flocking to the path of darkness from throughout the United States and scores of other nations, some of them clogging the roads with traffic in lots of tiny places where stop-and-go driving is more rare than a walrus.

"There will be tens of millions of people who see this eclipse, but this is the best spot," said Blake Marnell, 52, who drove from San Diego deep into the wheat and bean fields of western Nebraska to Carhenge, a replica of England's Stonehenge located near Alliance, Nebraska. "I figured this was the most American place in America to see the American eclipse. We have won the eclipse."

After weeks of warnings and preparation in the 70-mile-wide band from Portland, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, where the moon will completely block the sun, most places reported that traffic was heavier than normal but not out of hand. An estimated 200 million people are within a day's drive of the path of the eclipse totality.

Early Monday, about 450 bleary-eyed people who had traveled for five-and-a-half hours from Chicago emerged from an Amtrak's "Eclipse Express" train in Carbondale, Illinois.

In Hopkinsville, Kentucky, considered "ground zero" for the swath of darkness, Mayor Carter Hendricks said the town was "not having traffic issues . . . Luckily the traffic is flowing pretty smoothly."

In Culver, Oregon, about 900 people camped in the athletic field at a local school and hundreds more camped in parks and in farmers' fields. Nearby, drivers lined the rural roads.

At Wyoming's Glendo State Park a grassy area had been mowed to allow parking. The area was about half full by midmorning, with cars bearing license plates from states like New Jersey, Maryland, and Minnesota.

At the white water park on the North Platte River in Casper, Wyoming., there was an unexpected emptiness.

"We're just going to experience it," said Jerry Condon, of Stillwater, Minnesota, as he sat with five friends on the south bank.

"We got here early to beat the crowd," Condon said, gesturing to the empty banks. "Maybe it will fill up right before the eclipse."

Early morning - several hours before the eclipse - arrived in Idaho City, Idaho, to find plenty of parking spaces at the visitor center lot as cars slowly trickled along the two-lane highway that stretched into one of the more rugged and remote swaths of the eclipse's zone of totality.

But the parking lot began to fill with visitors that took the 35-mile drive from Boise, and by 10:45 a.m. it was packed.

"I can't believe how many people are here," said Ginger Thomas, who was selling jam, pancake mix and huckleberry syrup from a market she erected near the lot.

Though Boise County Emergency Management anticipated close to 40,000 vehicles would traverse Boise County's Highway 55 and Highway 21 over the weekend, there was no sign of that on Highway 21 heading toward Idaho City.

There are peculiar regional standards by which traffic volume is measured, and in western tip of South Carolina it all has to do with Clemson University football, which draws on a football weekend more than 81,000 people to a town of 14,000.

In the path of Monday's eclipse, Clemson swelled by thousands and a pair of local inhabitants, Hannah Chapman, 21, and Morgan Davis, 21, proclaimed their town as "totally packed" as it becomes on any football weekend.

South Carolina's highway patrol said roads were packed around Clemson, though Cpl. Bill Rhyne said the roads around the university campus hadn't quite reached a game-day volume.

In Charleston, the city where the eclipse will exit the U.S., scores of people rafted their boats on Shem Creek off the Cooper River to watch the darkness descend. People organized paddle board and kayaking groups to observe it, and there was a line out the door at the Big Box Liquor Store.

Moon begins blotting out the sun in historic US eclipse http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170821/GZ0113/170829954 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170821/GZ0113/170829954 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 12:46:39 -0400 By Marcia Dunn The Associated Press By By Marcia Dunn The Associated Press Americans gazed in wonder through telescopes, cameras and protective glasses Monday as the moon began blotting out the midday sun in the first full-blown solar eclipse to sweep the U.S. from coast to coast in nearly a century.

"The show has just begun, people! What a gorgeous day! Isn't this great people?" Jim Todd, a director at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, told a crowd of thousands at an amphitheater in Salem, Oregon, as the moon seemed to take an ever-bigger bite out of the sun.

The celestial show was expected to be the most observed and photographed eclipse in history, with millions staking out prime viewing spots and settling into lawn chairs to watch, especially along the path of totality - the projected line of shadow created when the sun is completely obscured. The path was 60 to 70 miles (96 to 113 kilometers) wide, running from Oregon to South Carolina.

With 200 million people within a day's drive from the path of totality, towns and parks braced for monumental crowds. Clear skies beckoned along most of the route, to the relief of those who feared cloud cover would spoil this once-in-a-lifetime moment.

Astronomers were giddy with excitement. A solar eclipse is considered one of the grandest of cosmic spectacles.

The Earth, moon and sun line up perfectly every one to three years, briefly turning day into night for a sliver of the planet. But these sights normally are in no man's land, like the vast Pacific or Earth's poles. This is the first eclipse of the social media era to pass through such a heavily populated area.

The moon hasn't thrown this much shade at the U.S. since 1918. That was the country's last coast-to-coast total eclipse. In fact, the U.S. mainland hasn't seen a total solar eclipse since 1979 - and even then, only five states in the Northwest experienced total darkness.

Scientists said Monday's total eclipse would cast a shadow that would race 2,600 miles (4,200 kilometers) through 14 states, entering near Lincoln City, Oregon, at 1:16 p.m. EDT, moving diagonally across the heartland over Casper, Wyoming, Carbondale, Illinois, and Nashville, Tennessee, and then exiting near Charleston, South Carolina, at 2:47 p.m. EDT.

Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois was in line to see the longest stretch of darkness: 2 minutes and 44 seconds.

All of North America was on track to get at least a partial eclipse, along with Central America and the top of South America.

In the southern Illinois village of Makanda, population 560 and home of the Eclipse Kitchen, lawn chairs were out and excitement was building.

"More and more people are coming in all the time," said Debbie Dunn, designated car parker for the day.

Joe Roth, an amateur photographer, traveled south from the Chicago area to Alto Pass, Illinois, to catch his first total solar eclipse - on his 62nd birthday, no less. He said the stars aligned for him - "a Kodak moment for me to cherish and experience."

Kim Kniseley drove overnight from Roanoke, Virginia, arriving in Madisonville, Tennessee, before dawn to get a parking spot at Kefauver Park, where by sunrise dozens of folks had claimed benches and set up tents.

He said he could have stayed home in Roanoke and seen a partial eclipse of 90 percent, but that would have been like "going to a rock concert and you're standing in the parking lot."

NASA and other scientists were in position to watch and analyze from telescopes on the ground and in orbit, the International Space Station, airplanes and scores of high-altitude balloons beaming back live video.

From aboard the space station, NASA astronaut Jack Fischer tweeted out a photo showing about a dozen cameras ready for action.

"All hands (cameras) on deck for #SolarEclipse2017 today," he wrote, adding: "Don't forget to protect your eyeballs!"

Hundreds of amateur astronomers converged on Casper, Wyoming. Among them was Mike O'Leary, whose camera was outfitted with a homemade eclipse filter, its focus and aperture settings locked in with blue painter's tape. He was there to log his ninth eclipse.

"It's like nothing else you will ever see or ever do," O'Leary said. "It can be religious. It makes you feel insignificant, like you're just a speck in the whole scheme of things."

Citizen scientists also planned to monitor animal and plant behavior as daylight turned into twilight and the temperature dropped. Thousands of people streamed into the Nashville Zoo just to watch the animals' reaction.

Scientists warned people not to look into the sun without protection, except when the sun is 100 percent covered. Otherwise, to avoid eye damage, keep the solar specs on or use pinhole projectors that can cast an image of the eclipse into a box.

The next total solar eclipse in the U.S. will be in 2024. The next coast-to-coast one will not be until 2045.


Associated Press writers Gillian Flaccus in Salem, Oregon; Peter Banda in Casper, Wyoming; Caryn Rousseau in Chicago; Seth Borenstein in Nashville, Tennessee; and Beth Harpaz in Madisonville, Tennessee, contributed to this report.

Can't be there? How to watch the solar eclipse on TV and online http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170821/GZ0113/170829959 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170821/GZ0113/170829959 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 09:40:55 -0400 The Associated Press By The Associated Press If you can't witness the total solar eclipse in person, you can still see it online or via TV.

Here are some of the viewing options: (All times EDT)

- NASA will offer hours of coverage online and on NASA Television beginning at noon. It plans livestreaming of the eclipse beginning at 1 p.m. with images from satellites, research aircraft, high-altitude balloons and specially modified telescopes.

- CNN coverage will include reporting from Oregon, Missouri, Tennessee and South Carolina. In partnership with Volvo, CNN also plans two hours of livestreaming, 360-degree coverage accessible in virtual reality through Oculus headsets beginning at 1 p.m.

- The PBS science series NOVA is planning a quick turnaround with an hourlong eclipse documentary at 9 p.m.

- The Science Channel will broadcast its live coverage from Madras, Oregon, from noon to 4 p.m., with commentary from educators and astronomers from the Lowell Observatory.

- David Muir will anchor ABC's two hours of live coverage, with correspondents reporting from viewing parties across the country. NBC also plans live coverage, with Lester Holt hosting special reports at 1 and 2 p.m. featuring correspondents reporting from Oregon, Illinois, Wyoming and South Carolina. Shepard Smith will break into typical broadcasting on Fox News Channel from noon to 4 p.m. to update viewers on the eclipse.

- The Weather Channel is kicking off its live coverage at 6 a.m. and continuing throughout the day with dispatches from seven locations.

Eclipse turning day into night will send temperatures tumbling http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170821/GZ0113/170829960 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170821/GZ0113/170829960 Mon, 21 Aug 2017 09:07:42 -0400 By Brian K. Sullivan Bloomberg By By Brian K. Sullivan Bloomberg Getting ready to watch the solar eclipse? Bring a sweater along with those special glasses because the mercury could dip as the moon's shadow crosses the land.

Millions of Americans across a 70-mile-wide (113-kilometer) corridor from Oregon to South Carolina will see the sky darken as the sun disappears from view, albeit for only a few minutes at a time.

Temperatures in those areas could tumble by as much as 10 degrees Fahrenheit (5.6 Celsius), according to Paul Walker, a meteorologist with AccuWeather Inc. in State College, Pennsylvania. Other parts of the nation will only experience a partial eclipse.

"That is assuming a totally sunny sky," Walker said by telephone. "We will see a temperature drop where totality happens," he said, referring to the path the eclipse will take across the U.S. where the sun will be completely blocked out.

The eclipse will disrupt the sun's power to heat the ground, warm the atmosphere and supply electricity. It could also be ruined by a rainy day, patch of fog or even just a sudden thunderstorm in the wrong place. Given the limits of modern-day forecasting, predicting any one of those days in advance for an event that only lasts minutes is near impossible.

"It's a difficult forecast challenge," said Bob Henson, a meteorologist at Weather Underground in Boulder, Colorado. "You're not forecasting a day's weather, but for two minutes."

The chill in the air will peak about five to 20 minutes after the moon's shadow passes by. Temperatures could take three hours to rebound across the Great Plains and East Coast, said Brad Harvey, meteorologist with MDA Weather Services in Gaithersburg, Maryland.

"The change in temperature may be larger and take longer to recover in the West," Harvey said. The eclipse will start to be seen in the morning which is "the time of day when temperatures are rising most rapidly."

On the West Coast, the eclipse is due to start a little after 9 a.m. local time and peak about 10:15 a.m. In the central U.S., that will happen at 1:18 p.m. in St. Louis. The East Coast will see the biggest effect after 2:30 p.m.

As many as 12,000 megawatts of solar power will vanish along the path of the moon's shadow along with the decrease in temperatures. Natural gas generators as well as hydroelectric plants and other sources will help fill in the gaps.

There will be little impact on winds, according to Harvey. "Gusts may be reduced because of stabilization of the air," he said. The effect could be similar to a sea breeze, said Henson.

One of the odd things that could happen on a micro-scale is for fog to occur as sunshine fades and temperatures drop.

That the path of totality crosses three distinct weather zones also has to be factored in by meteorologists.

One is the Pacific Northwest, which is often clear and sunny at this time of year, except along the coast, Henson said. So people living inland will likely have a good chance of seeing the eclipse.

Smoke from wildfires could threaten to obscure the celestial event, said Frank Pereira, a forecaster at the U.S. Weather Prediction Center in College Park, Maryland. "In terms of cloud cover, it will be minimal across a good portion of that area."

Showers and thunderstorms forecast to cross the region from Nebraska to Missouri Sunday night could linger into Monday, Pereira said. Southern Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee should all have good weather.

Finally, east of the Mississippi, the typical summertime pattern can be one of afternoon thunderstorms that are difficult to forecast in advance and could make viewing the eclipse that much harder.

"If they pop up over you, you aren't going to see it," Henson said.

And it that happens? Well, North America gets another crack at a total solar eclipse in April 2024.

Trump to address path forward on Afghanistan http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170820/GZ0113/170829974 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170820/GZ0113/170829974 Sun, 20 Aug 2017 18:32:39 -0400 The Associated Press

CAMP MOREHEAD, Afghanistan - Signaling that the U.S. military expects its mission to continue, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan on Sunday hailed the launch of the Afghan Army's new special operations corps, declaring that "we are with you and we will stay with you."

Gen. John Nicholson's exhortation of continued support for the Afghans suggested the Pentagon may have won its argument that America's military must stay engaged in the conflict to make sure terrorists don't once again threaten the U.S. from safe havens in Afghanistan.

The White House announced that President Donald Trump would address the nation's troops and the American people tonight to update the path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia.

Nicholson, speaking prior to the White House announcement, said the commandos and a plan to double the size of the Afghan's special operations forces are critical to winning the war.

"I assure you we are with you in this fight," he said during a ceremony at Camp Morehead, a training base for Afghan commandos southeast of Kabul.

The Pentagon was awaiting a final announcement by Trump on a proposal to send nearly 4,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The added forces would increase training and advising of the Afghan forces and bolster counterterrorism operations against the Taliban and an Islamic State group affiliate trying to gain a foothold in the country.

The administration has been at odds for months over how to craft a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan amid frustrations that 16 years after 9/11 the conflict is stalemated.

The Afghan government only controls half of the country and is beset by endemic corruption and infighting. The Islamic State group has been hit hard but continues to attempt major attacks, insurgents still find safe harbor in Pakistan, and Russia, Iran and others are increasingly trying to shape the outcome. At this point, everything the U.S. military has proposed points to keeping the Afghan government in place and struggling to turn a dismal quagmire around.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said he is satisfied with how the administration formulated its new Afghanistan war strategy. But he refused to talk about the new policy until it was disclosed by Trump.

He said the deliberations, including talks at the Camp David presidential retreat on Friday, were done properly.

"I am very comfortable that the strategic process was sufficiently rigorous," Mattis said, speaking aboard a military aircraft on an overnight flight from Washington to Amman, Jordan.

Months ago, Trump gave Mattis authority to set U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan, but Mattis said he has not yet sent significant additional forces to the fight. He has said he would wait for Trump to set the strategic direction first.

Trump wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he had made decisions at Camp David, "including on Afghanistan," but he did not say more about it. The expectation had been that he would agree to a modest boost in the U.S. war effort, while also addressing broader political, economic and regional issues.

Mattis said Trump had been presented with multiple options. He did not name them, but others have said one option was to pull out of Afghanistan entirely. Another, which Mattis had mentioned recently in Washington, was to hire private contractors to perform some of the U.S. military's duties.

At Camp Morehead, lines of Afghan commandos stood at attention as Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and a host of proud dignitaries sat under flag-draped canopies and welcomed the advancement in their nation's long-struggling military.

In short remarks to the force, Nicholson said a defeat in Afghanistan would erode safety in the U.S. and "embolden jihadists around the world."

That's why, he said, the U.S. is helping to double the size of the Afghan commando force, adding that the ceremony "marks the beginning of the end of the Taliban."

Maj. Gen. James Linder, the head of U.S. and NATO special operations forces in Afghanistan, said the nearly 4,000 troops requested by the Pentagon for Afghanistan includes about 460 trainers for his staff to help increase the size of the special operations forces.

He said he'd be able expand training locations and insure they have advisers at all the right levels, including on the new Afghan special operations corps staff.

According to a senior U.S. military officer in Kabul, increasing the number of American troops would allow the military to quickly send additional advisers or airstrike support to two simultaneous operations. Right now, the official said, they can only do so for one.

The officer said it would allow the U.S. to send fighter aircraft, refueling aircraft and surveillance aircraft to multiple locations for missions.

The officer was not authorized to discuss the details publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity.

Afghan military commanders have been clear that they want and expect continued U.S. military help.

Pulling out American forces "would be a total failure," Col. Abdul Mahfuz, the Afghan intelligence agency chief for Qarahbagh, north of Kabul, said Saturday. And he said that substituting paid contractors for U.S. troops would be a formula for continuing the war, rather than completing it.

Mahfuz and other Afghan commanders spoke at a shura council meeting at Bagram air base attended also by U.S. military officers and Afghan intelligence officials.

Col. Abdul Mobin, who commands an Afghan mechanized battalion in the 111th Division, said any reduction in the U.S. military presence "leads to total failure."

Speaking through an interpreter, he added that operations by Afghan and U.S. special operations forces have been very effective, and that "the presence of U.S. military personnel is felt and considered a positive step for peace."

He said he'd like to see an additional 10,000 American troops in the country.

Capito slams Trump's Charlottesville response; WV GOP congressmen mum http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170818/GZ01/170819565 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170818/GZ01/170819565 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 17:50:57 -0400 Jake Jarvis Jake ZuckermanJake Zuckerman By Jake Jarvis Jake ZuckermanJake Zuckerman Members of West Virginia's congressional delegation have offered one of two responses to President Donald Trump's words in the aftermath of a violent white supremacist gathering in Charlottesville, Virginia last week: criticism or silence.

During a telephone interview from Israel Friday morning, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., hammered Trump for his remarks that there were "very fine people" among the neo-Nazi protesters, one of whom drove a car into a crowd, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and wounding 20 others.

"I can't find a fine face in that crowd, and I'm not going to try either," Capito said.

Capito, who rarely criticizes party leadership, made no excuses for Trump's remarks. She said Trump needs to address his comments again, and that he needs to unite the their party and the rest of the country to heal after the tragedy.

"I don't think he's handled it very well at all," Capito said. "I think he's sent mixed messages. I think he's created a firestorm where there shouldn't be one. We're talking about anti-Semitic, racist, white supremacists who should have no place in this country, on the streets of beautiful towns like Charlottesville or any other town in our country. I think the president's reaction has been unfortunately very unsatisfactory."

A large crowd attended a "Unite the Right" rally on Aug. 12 to protest the city's decision to remove a statue of Robert E. Lee, a Confederate general during the U.S. Civil War. They came waving flags bearing Nazi, Confederate or other racist, xenophobic and incendiary insignia.

The event drew large counter-protests until the gatherings turned deadly.

Several prominent Republicans have since spoken out against Trump's handling of the situation while his allies have squirmed away from defending him. In his initial statement, he did not mention the Nazis or white supremacists by name and blamed "many many sides" for the tragedy. A day later, he came out and condemned white supremacy, racism and the Ku Klux Klan. But then, in a Tuesday press conference, he doubled down on his earlier remarks and said that there were "very fine people on both sides."

And while Trump has refrained from calling the vehicular attack terrorism -- though other members of his administration have -- Capito said the issue is cut and dry.

"Using a car to mow down people because of a fundamental belief is a pretty good definition of, in my view, terrorism," she said.

But Capito's fellow West Virginia Republicans in Congress were silent on Trump's comments. U.S. Reps. Evan Jenkins, David McKinley and Alex Mooney all declined to comment or did not responded to multiple interview requests throughout the week regarding Trump's conduct.

Jenkins and McKinley did issue statements critical of violent protests and hate-based groups, but neither has said a word about Trump's handling of events. Mooney has not put out a statement of any kind.

Sen. Joe Manchin, the state's lone Democrat in congress, did not shy away from rebuking Trump's actions. Manchin criticized both the racist protesters and Trump's response to them in an emailed statement. Specifically, he called out Trump's suggestion that both sides were at fault.

"I condemn, in the strongest possible way, the hatred and bigotry carried out by white supremacists in Charlottesville," he said. "This hateful ideology has always contradicted the very foundation our country was built on and has no place in our society and our communities today. There are not two sides to the story when the other side is Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists. The President should not leave any ambiguity about these hate groups - there aren't two sides, there is only right and wrong."

Those with eyeballs on Manchin's seat for 2018 chimed in against Trump.

GOP primary candidate and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, a vocal Trump supporter, seemed to criticize the president's responses.

"It's long past time for everyone to unify and condemn all hatred and racism without equivocation," he said on Twitter on Thursday. "We must never excuse bigotry."

His campaign spokeswoman did not respond to an email asking if the statement was a criticism of the president.

Paula Jean Swearengin, who is challenging Manchin for his seat in the Democratic primary, said Trump could have handled the situation better. She said his campaign fanned the flames of white supremacy groups, which seem to be growing emboldened by his presidency.

She said any idea that blame lies on many sides, as Trump has said repeatedly, is incorrect.

"You just can't equate counter protesters with these neo-Nazis," she said. "There is no moral equivalence."

Bo Copley, another challenger in the GOP primary, said white supremacy and anti-Semitism is unacceptable in any form. Still, he thinks Trump has responded appropriately and was unfairly criticized. Copley claimed there was violence coming from both protest groups, and people are being too forgiving of violence coming from groups like Antifa, a sometimes-violent anarchist group, who joined the counter protesters.

However, when read statements from Trump's press conference Tuesday, he seemed taken aback.

"I've never heard that, but I don't like the way that sounds either," he said.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

Reach Jake Jarvis at jake.jarvis@wvgazettemail.com, Facebook.com/newsroomjake, 304-348-7939 or @NewsroomJake on Twitter.

Driving during Monday's solar eclipse? Read these tips first http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170818/GZ01/170819580 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170818/GZ01/170819580 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:19:21 -0400 By Lori Aratani The Washington Post By By Lori Aratani The Washington Post It's been almost a century since a total solar eclipse swept the whole width of the U.S. so it's easy to understand what all the excitement is about.

But as with every big event, there well . . . traffic impacts. Not just from visitors swarming to cities where there will be full darkness, but from regular old commuters who might be startled when the sky begins to grow unexpectedly dark.

Monday's eclipse, set to begin near Lincoln City, Oregon, at around 10:15 a.m. Pacific time, is expected to move through the District of Columbia region at just after 1 p.m. Eastern time. In the nation's capital, there won't be full darkness when the moon passes between Earth and the sun, but you will witness a notable darkening during the crossing.

This is why state departments of transportation here and around the country are on high alert - bringing on additional personnel to manage traffic around areas that expect large numbers of visitors and in some cases even calling the National Guard.

The federal government is also doing its part to keep roads as clear as possible. As Terena Bell reports, the Federal Highway Administration has asked states to suspend all road construction Monday to ease the flow of traffic. FHWA also is changing interstate dynamic message boards nationwide: A total solar eclipse is coming. The sky will get dark. The sun will appear to go away in the middle of the day. Do not slam on your brakes. Do not be afraid.

Even the smallest change in a normal commuting can cause traffic issues. Transportation officials, including the folks with the Maryland Transportation Authority, and AAA Mid-Atlantic are offering this tips on how to avoid trouble if you're on the road during the eclipse.

- Don't stop along the interstate or park on the shoulder during the event.

- Exit the highway to a safe location to view and/or photograph the eclipse.

- Don't take photographs while driving - keep your attention on the road ahead.

- Don't try to wear opaque eclipse glasses while operating a vehicle.

- Turn your headlights on - do not rely on your automatic headlights when the eclipse blocks out the sun.

- Use extra caution if your travels take you through a work zone during the eclipse.

- Watch out for pedestrians and bicyclists. People may be randomly parking and walking alongside the roadside during the time of the eclipse to get a good view.

- Prepare for extra congestion, especially on the interstates the day before, day of and day after the eclipse.

- Avoid travel during the eclipse or in an area with expected eclipse viewers.

John Townsend, AAA Mid-Atlantic's manager of public and government affairs, also advises bringing along an emergency kit just in case.

Some other tips from AAA Mid-Atlantic if you are headed to eclipse viewing areas:

- Expect heavy traffic in the days leading up to and after the eclipse on Aug. 21. If you're driving to your eclipse viewing destination, leave a day or two early and plan to come home a day or two after the eclipse. Hotels and campsites have been booked for months if not years, but you may be able to stay with a friend or find a place to park a trailer or RV.

- Keep your gas tank at least half full. Smaller communities could experience fuel and/or food shortages. You don't want to be running on empty if you're stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic because you'll likely run out of gas. Don't carry extra gasoline - it's flammable and could explode. It can also emit dangerous fumes. And with the surge in demand for gasoline and diesel, expect pump prices to climb before and after the eclipse. AAA's mobile app can help you find the cheapest gas in your area.

- Pack water and non-perishable food for all passengers and pets. Bring enough such supplies to last at least a couple days because emergency responders are all concerned about being able to quickly respond to those who need help.

- Don't leave home without an emergency kit in your car. Besides food and water, bring your mobile phone and charger (there are several hand-cranked chargers available that don't rely on your car's battery), flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kit, a basic tool kit with tire pressure gauge and adjustable wrench, windshield washer solution, jumper cables and emergency flares or reflectors. "Carrying the basics will help if you encounter trouble. Being able to jump start a dead battery or treat a passenger with a minor cut or scrape will provide peace of mind."

- If you're stuck in traffic during the eclipse, don't pull over to watch. It's against the law to stop or park on the shoulder of interstates and highways.

Spanish probe points to wider network in attacks; American among dead http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170818/GZ01/170819586 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170818/GZ01/170819586 Fri, 18 Aug 2017 08:39:42 -0400 By James Mcauley, Michael Birnbaum and Souad Mekhennet The Washington Post By By James Mcauley, Michael Birnbaum and Souad Mekhennet The Washington Post BARCELONA, Spain -- Spanish police expanded their hunt Friday for a man who swerved his van onto Barcelona's Las Ramblas promenade, as evidence of a wider web of plotters took shape after the worst terrorist attack on Spain in more than a decade.

Investigators were still untangling the chain of events. But they believe at least eight people plotted Thursday's Barcelona attack and another one south of the city early Friday, which evinced a level of sophistication comparable to major strikes in Paris and Brussels in recent years. Other more recent attacks in Nice, Berlin and London were perpetrated by individuals operating largely on their own.

In a sign that the attack could have been significantly worse, police said that a major gas explosion destroyed a house being used by the assailants hours before the van veered into crowds in Barcelona. Propane and butane canisters were found on the scene, and authorities believed they were intended for use against civilians.

As of Friday evening, authorities had detained three Moroccan men and a Spaniard, but the main suspect - the driver of the van, who fled on foot after the rampage - was believed to remain at large. Police also were investigating the possibility that he was among five assailants killed in the second attack early Friday.

Meanwhile, the nation began to mourn the international group of at least 13 victims who were fatally struck as they strolled in the heart of Barcelona's tourist district late Thursday afternoon.

In Washington, the State Department said Friday that an American was among those killed. The department also said Spanish authorities still have not identified all of the casualties, so the U.S. Consulate in Barcelona is working with them to determine whether any more Americans were killed or injured.

Also on the forefront for investigators: trying to piece together the extent of the network that carried out Thursday's carnage in Barcelona and a second vehicle rampage in Cambrils, a seaside town about 60 miles south of Barcelona, that left at least one person dead - raising the overall death toll to 14.

The Islamic State claimed links to the Barcelona attack, but the level of involvement by the militant faction was unclear.

Spanish intelligence officials were circulating at least four names among their European counterparts on Friday, according to a Spanish intelligence official and a European intelligence official, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the situation.

The four men, all holding Moroccan citizenship, ranged in age from 18 to 24. Three were born in the North African country: Said Aallaa, 18; Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22; and Mohamed Hychami, 24. The fourth was identified in a Spanish police document as Moussa Oukabir, 17, but the European intelligence official said Spanish officials had flagged someone with the same family name but a different first name. All lived in or near the Catalan town of Ripoll, close to the French border.

At least three of the men were killed in the attack in Cambrils, the Spanish intelligence official said, without identifying which of the men were believed killed.

Two Spanish security officials said police originally sought Oukabir's older brother because his identity card was found in the truck used for the attack in Barcelona. The older brother, who is currently in custody, denies any connection to the attack and said his brother may have stolen his identity card, the official said.

"We cannot rule out further attacks," Maj. Josep Lluis Trapero, a Catalan police official, told reporters in Barcelona.

Trapero said police were still trying to determine whether the driver of the van in Barcelona was killed in the second attack.

The nationality of the men was sure to raise alarm within European counterterrorism circles. Moroccan networks were also connected to major terrorist attacks in France and Belgium in recent years. Spain has a significant Moroccan population, and there has been a spike in arrivals of migrants from Morocco by sea this year.

Authorities were not aware of any previous connection to extremism among the detained men, Trapero told reporters in Barcelona.

In Cambrils, police said all five men who plowed their Audi into people along the corniche at about 1 a.m. were shot dead, four of them by the same officer.

In Barcelona, thousands of people gathered in a square at the top of Las Ramblas for a minute of silence, led by Spanish King Felipe VI and Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Afterward, they cheered, held single red roses to the sky and chanted in Catalan: "I am not afraid."

In a sign of the evolving investigation, Rajoy led an emergency meeting of security officials in Barcelona. The meeting included a review of all leads in the manhunt for the driver and an analysis of "the latest details" on the attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils.

The whole Las Ramblas neighborhood was eerily quiet as heavily armed police patrolled on Friday.

Tourists and onlookers slowly filled the long boulevard, turning what is ordinarily a vacation hotspot into a site of mourning. Some set out candles to commemorate the victims.

In a series of tweets, President Donald Trump said U.S. agencies were "on alert" and blamed court challenges and opposition from Democrats for making security "very difficult." He gave no specifics.

"Radical Islamic Terrorism must be stopped by whatever means necessary!" Trump wrote. "The courts must give us back our protective rights. Have to be tough!"

The attacks on Thursday and Friday marked the latest uses of vehicles in terrorist strikes against civilians.

Spain's civil protection agency said 120 people were injured in the attack in Barcelona, and an additional six in Cambrils. There were casualties among people of at least 34 nationalities, underscoring the international draw of the cosmopolitan Las Ramblas area, which has long stood at the heart of the city. France's Foreign Ministry said 26 of its citizens were injured, 11 of them seriously.

Residents of Barcelona said they had long feared an attack on their bustling city.

"This is a huge city, and somehow we were always expecting something like this, but of course you're never prepared," said Cristina Nadal, 44, an aide for the Catalan government, who came to the moment of silence on Friday.

The crowd was "exactly what we wanted to show - that although the terrorists want to beat us, we can show to the world that we can still stand strong," she said.

Two longtime Muslim residents of Barcelona said they were furious about the violence.

"What Islam teaches us is that killing one person is like killing all of humanity," said Nagma Jawed, 40, who moved to the city 20 years ago from her native India and runs a textile shop in the city.

"First of all, we are human beings. Our religion comes after that," said Jawed, who was wearing a headscarf on Friday as she stood in the square with her husband for the mourning ceremony.

It was not immediately clear how closely the Islamic State had worked with the attackers. The group has previously claimed responsibility for attacks inspired by its rhetoric but not directly planned by Islamic State leaders.

Police later said they were looking into a potential link between the van attack and a pair of earlier explosions that destroyed a house in Alcanar, about 100 miles southeast of Barcelona. One person was killed there and 16 were injured, including police officers and firefighters who were investigating the initial blast. The blast at the house was initially reported to be a gas explosion.

At least one of the three men in detention was involved in the explosion, one of the Spanish security officials said, and counterterrorism authorities were proceeding on the assumption that the propane canisters were intended for use as part of an attack and exploded prematurely.


Birnbaum reported from Brussels and Mekhennet reported from Frankfurt. William Booth and Raúl Gallego Abellan in Barcelona, Paul Schemm in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and Brian Murphy in Washington contributed to this report.

Van attack kills 12, wounds scores in Spain http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170817/GZ01/170819597 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170817/GZ01/170819597 Thu, 17 Aug 2017 22:12:56 -0400 By William Booth, Karla Adam and Brian Murphy The Washington Post By By William Booth, Karla Adam and Brian Murphy The Washington Post LONDON - A driver swerved a van onto a pedestrian area Thursday in Barcelona's historic Las Ramblas district, ramming into crowds and leaving at least a dozen people dead and scores of others wounded along a stretch of tree-shaded sidewalk. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant claimed responsibility for the violence, and authorities described the incident as a terrorist attack.

Joaquim Forn, the interior minister of the Catalan regional government, reported in a Twitter message that 13 people were dead. The government later revised the death toll to 12.

Some of those wounded were in serious condition, raising the possibility that the death toll could rise. Earlier, Spanish police described the carnage as "massive."

The Islamic State's Amaq news agency said the attack was carried out by "soldiers of the Islamic State," according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity.

Hours after the initial attack unfolded, central Barcelona was still on lockdown and it was unclear if attackers were still at large.

The Catalan Interior Ministry said late Thursday that a car broke through a police checkpoint outside Barcelona and injured two police officers. One officer's leg was broken and the driver was shot and killed, but officials said the incident was not related to the Las Ramblas attack.

Police said they had shot and killed several people south of Barcelona while carrying out an operation in response to the Las Ramblas attack.

The regional police for Catalonia said on Twitter early today that officers were in Cambrils, a seaside resort town about 62 miles from Barcelona.

Spain's public broadcaster, RTVE, reported that regional police had killed four people and wounded another there.

The broadcaster reported that police said the suspects were planning an attack in Cambrils to follow the promenade attack in Barcelona.

It was not clear if the incident, which took place near the town of Sant Just Desvern, just west of Barcelona, was connected to the earlier attack.

"There have been people arrested, and this investigation is still ongoing," Carles Puigdemont, president of the Catalan regional government, told reporters in Barcelona, noting that two suspects were in custody. "Catalonia will always prevail in the face of terrorism. We will always stand for democracy and freedom. We will always be united. Be assured that democracy will always win against barbarism."

He said that 80 people were hospitalized.

Spanish police did not give details on the driver or other aspects of the incident.

Spanish news media, citing police sources, reported that one person was killed in a shootout after running a police roadblock on the outskirts of the city, but there was no official confirmation of that.

Catalan police said there was no hostage situation in a bar in the city center, denying rumors that quickly spread in the confused hours after the van plowed through the crowd.

Catalan regional police later said they were evacuating people from the Las Ramblas area as they conducted a manhunt.

Spanish King Felipe VI vowed on Twitter that Spain would not be "terrorized" by murderers and criminals. "All of Spain is Barcelona," he wrote. "Las Ramblas will return to being for everyone."

Cities around the world have been on higher alert for vehicle attacks after terrorist crashes in London, Stockholm, Berlin and elsewhere in the past year.

ISIL supporters celebrated the Barcelona attack Thursday and promoted previous threats made against Spain, according to the SITE Intelligence Group.

ISIL, also known as ISIS, has called on supporters to carry out attacks using vehicles. The group has claimed responsibility for car attacks carried across Europe, as well as on the campus of Ohio State University last year.

The Barcelona attack drew offers of assistance from around the world, including the United States.

"The United States condemns the terror attack in Barcelona, Spain, and will do whatever is necessary to help. Be tough & strong, we love you!" President Trump wrote on Twitter.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said U.S. authorities would offer any help they could.

Video posted on social media showed at least four people sprawled on the sidewalk, some apparently not moving. Hats, handbags and other items were strewn nearby. Some people ran screaming from the scene.

The van that veered into the pedestrians came to stop with its front crumpled.

"All of a sudden, the police just shouted at everyone, telling them just to run. There was a really loud kind of crashing noise. I didn't stop to look back," Ethan Spieby, a witness caught up in the commotion, told the BBC.

He said he was holed up in a church with about 80 tourists and locals. "They have locked the doors, and I think the police are outside. We're just waiting in here right now to hear more news. It's quite scary to be caught up in it."

Andrew Roby, 35, a tourist visiting from Washington, told The Washington Post that he saw a small white van that had plowed into pedestrians on the busy central street, lined with bars, cafes and shops. "All of sudden, everyone started running, so we ran, too."

Roby said he saw several people, apparently wounded, lying in front of and beside the van. "We saw people on the ground," he said. "I heard a bunch of people screaming."

Tom Markwell, another American tourist, told the BBC that he saw a white van "going entirely too fast. It looked to me as if he was going left to right, hitting people with the little stand. All of a sudden, people were just screaming and running."

Police immediately cordoned off the area in the center of Barcelona. Stores and restaurants were ordered closed.

Las Ramblas is one of the city's top tourist areas, with a wide pedestrian promenade flanked by roadways.

The bustling avenue in the heart of Barcelona was packed with tourists at the height of vacation season. Spain has been largely spared major terrorist incidents since a 2004 attack on the Madrid commuter train system, but authorities have been concerned about terrorist risks for some time as neighbors were repeatedly struck.

The Catalonia region of Spain has also faced repeated terrorist attacks over decades from the ETA Basque separatist group. Catalonia is planning an independence vote Oct. 1 over the objections of the national government in Madrid, which says it is unconstitutional.

In July 2016, a truck was driven into Bastille Day crowds in the southern French city of Nice, killing 86 people. In December 2016, 12 people were killed when a driver used a hijacked truck to drive into a Christmas market in Berlin.

In March, a man in a rented SUV plowed into pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge, killing four people before he ran onto the grounds of Parliament and fatally stabbed a police officer.

A month later, a rejected asylum seeker from Uzbekistan crashed a truck into a department store in Stockholm in an attack that left five people dead.

Charlottesville victim's mother: 'Make my child's death worthwhile' http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170816/GZ01/170819653 GZ01 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170816/GZ01/170819653 Wed, 16 Aug 2017 23:32:11 -0400 By Brian White and Sarah Rankin The Associated Press By By Brian White and Sarah Rankin The Associated Press CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The mother of the young woman killed while protesting against a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville urged mourners at a memorial service Wednesday to "make my child's death worthwhile" by confronting injustice the way she did.

"They tried to kill my child to shut her up. Well, guess what? You just magnified her," said Susan Bro, receiving a standing ovation from the hundreds who packed a downtown theater to remember 32-year-old Heather Heyer.

Heyer's death Saturday - and President Donald Trump's insistence that "both sides" bear responsibility for the violence - continued to reverberate across the country, triggering fury among many Americans and soul-searching about the state of race relations in the United States. The uproar has accelerated efforts in many cities to remove symbols of the Confederacy.

Heyer was eulogized as a woman with a powerful sense of fairness. The mourners, many of them wearing purple, her favorite color, applauded as her mother urged them to channel their anger not into violence but into "righteous action."

State troopers were stationed on the surrounding streets, but the white supremacists who had vowed to show up were nowhere to be seen among the residents, clergy and tourists outside the Paramount Theater, just blocks from where Heyer died.

Heyer, a white legal assistant from Charlottesville, was killed and 19 others were injured Saturday when a car plowed into counterprotesters who had taken to the streets to decry what was believed to be the country's biggest gathering of white supremacists in at least a decade.

The hundreds of white supremacists - including neo-Nazis, skinheads and Ku Klux Klan members - had descended on Charlottesville after the city decided to remove a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

The driver of the car, James Alex Fields Jr., a 20-year-old Ohio man described as an admirer of Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, was arrested and charged with murder and other offenses.

In other developments:

n Trump tweeted for the first time about Heyer, calling her "beautiful and incredible" and a "truly special young woman." The White House did not respond to questions about whether the president had contacted Heyer's family.

n Baltimore dismantled four Confederacy-related monuments under cover of darkness, including statues of Lee and Lt. Gen. Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson, while the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama, had the city's 52-foot Confederate memorial obelisk covered over with wooden panels.

n The number of protesters arrested in connection with the toppling of a Confederate statue Monday night in Durham, North Carolina, climbed to four.

n Citing security concerns, the University of Florida denied a request by a group headed by white supremacist Richard Spencer to rent space on campus for a September event.

Jody and Brent Dahlseng, of Rockford, Illinois, said they were traveling to Virginia Beach for a vacation and made a special stop. They stood outside the theater with purple ties around their shoulders.

"This country can do better than this," Brent Dahlseng said.

Charlottesville resident Danielle Notari, who also was outside the theater, spoke through tears.

"We wanted to come say goodbye and pay our respects," she said, her arms wrapped around her young daughter.

Heyer's family members and friends said her death will only inspire them to fight harder for justice.

"This is not the end of Heather's legacy," Bro said.

Speaking firmly, Bro urged those who wanted to honor her daughter to "find in your heart that small spark of accountability."

"You poke that finger at yourself like Heather would have done, and you make it happen," she said. "You take that extra step and you find a way to make a difference in the world!"

Heyer's grandfather, Elwood Shrader, said she always wanted fairness, even from a young age, and was quick to call out something that wasn't right. He said she wanted respect for everyone and believed "all lives matter."

Mark Heyer, her father, said his daughter wanted to "put down hate."

"She's very compassionate, she's very precise, got a big heart," said Larry Miller, her boss at the law firm where she worked. "She wants to make sure that things are right. She cares about the people that we take care of."

Two Virginia state troopers also died Saturday, in the crash of their helicopter, which was used to provide video of the rally before it was diverted to lend support for the governor's motorcade.

The funerals for Troopers Berke M.M. Bates and H. Jay Cullen are set for Friday and Saturday.

Trump: Charlottesville violence came from 'both sides' http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170815/GZ0101/170819723 GZ0101 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170815/GZ0101/170819723 Tue, 15 Aug 2017 20:34:05 -0400 By Jonathan Lemire and Julie Pace The Associated Press By By Jonathan Lemire and Julie Pace The Associated Press NEW YORK - Combative and insistent, President Donald Trump declared anew Tuesday that "there is blame on both sides" for the deadly violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, appearing to once again equate the actions of white supremacist groups and those protesting against them.

The president's comments effectively wiped away the more conventional statement he delivered at the White House a day earlier when he branded members of the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who take part in violence as "criminals and thugs."

Trump's advisers had hoped those remarks might quell a crush of criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. But the president's retorts Tuesday suggested he had been a reluctant participant in that cleanup effort.

During an impromptu news conference in the lobby of his Manhattan skyscraper, he praised his original response to the Charlottesville clashes and angrily blamed liberal groups, in addition to white supremacists, for the violence. Some of those protesting the rally to save a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee were "also very violent," he said.

"There are two sides to a story," he said. He added that some facts about the violence still aren't publicly known.

His remarks were welcomed by former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, who tweeted: "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth."

Trump's handling of the weekend violence has raised troubling questions, even among some supporters, about why he sometimes struggles to forcefully and unequivocally condemn white supremacist groups. Members of his own Republican Party have pressured him to be more vigorous in criticizing bigoted groups, and four business leaders have resigned from a White House jobs panel in response to his comments.

Democrats were aghast at Trump's comments Tuesday. Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine said on Twitter that the Charlottesville violence "was fueled by one side: white supremacists spreading racism, intolerance & intimidation. Those are the facts." Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii said on Twitter that he no longer views Trump as his president.

"As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment," Schatz said. "This is not my president."

Violence broke out Saturday in Charlottesville, a picturesque college town, after a loosely connected mix of white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other far-right extremists assembled to protest the city's decision to remove a towering statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a man plowed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Trump appeared to defend the extremists' right to protest, noting that they had a permit, and Confederate statues.

"So, this week it's Robert E. Lee," he said. "I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself where does it stop?"

When asked to explain his Saturday comments about Charlottesville, Trump looked down at his notes and again read a section of his initial statement that denounced bigotry but did not single out white supremacists. He then tucked the paper back into his jacket pocket.

Trump, who has quickly deemed other deadly incidents in the United States and around the world acts of terrorism, waffled when asked if the car death was a terrorist attack.

"There is a question. Is it murder? Is it terrorism?" Trump said. "And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing."

Trump said he had yet to call Heyer's mother but that he would soon "reach out." He praised her for what he said was a nice statement about him on social media.

As Trump finally walked away from his lectern, he stopped to answer one more shouted question: Would he visit Charlottesville? The president's response was to note that he owns property there and to say it is one of the largest wineries in the United States.

VP Pence to visit WV for annual business summit at The Greenbrier http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170815/GZ0101/170819731 GZ0101 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170815/GZ0101/170819731 Tue, 15 Aug 2017 17:42:21 -0400 Staff reports By Staff reports Vice President Mike Pence will speak at the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce's 81st annual Meeting and Business Summit Aug. 30, according to a West Virginia Chamber of Commerce news release.

The summit, held at The Greenbrier resort, is a three-day event beginning Aug. 30 and is expected to host various business, education and policy leaders. The Chamber of Commerce said it "anticipates it will welcome the largest crowd to ever attend the annual event" in a previous news release.

Chamber President Steve Roberts said in the release that issues "important to West Virginia are receiving a high level of interest from the President and Vice President Pence."

Pence's visit will be the first time a sitting U.S. vice president has addressed the annual summit, the release said.

Other planned speakers include West Virginia University President E. Gordon Gee, Marshall University President Jerry Gilbert, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.

Pence visited West Virginia in March, addressing a crowd of supporters at Foster Supply in Scott Depot prior to making a brief speech at the state Capitol in Charleston.

'Racism is evil,' Trump says of Charlottesville violence http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170814/GZ0113/170819794 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170814/GZ0113/170819794 Mon, 14 Aug 2017 13:31:13 -0400 By Jonathan Lemire The Associated Press By By Jonathan Lemire The Associated Press WASHINGTON (AP) - Under pressure all weekend, President Donald Trump on Monday named and condemned hate groups as "repugnant" and declared "racism is evil" in an updated, more forceful statement on the deadly, race-fueled clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump had been under increasing pressure to call out the groups by name after his previous remarks bemoaning violence on "many sides" prompted criticism from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats. The president described members of the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who take part in violence as "criminals and thugs" in a prepared statement from the White House.

In his remarks he also called for unity.

"We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans," he said.

His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said earlier Monday that the violence in which a car plowed into a group of counter-protesters, killing one person, "does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute."

He told ABC's "Good Morning America": "You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation towards the most serious charges that can be brought, because this is an unequivocally unacceptable and evil attack that cannot be accepted in America."

Sessions said he expects to hear more from Trump on the matter after meeting with him Monday, as well as officials from the FBI. The president added a late-morning meeting with Sessions and FBI director Christopher Wray to his Monday schedule.

"We will not allow these extremist groups to obtain credibility," Sessions told "CBS This Morning."

In the hours after the incident on Saturday, Trump addressed the violence in broad strokes, saying that he condemns "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides."

No bail for suspected Charlottesville attacker http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170814/GZ0113/170819795 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170814/GZ0113/170819795 Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:21:32 -0400 By Joe Heim and Michael E. Miller The Washington Post By By Joe Heim and Michael E. Miller The Washington Post An Ohio man accused of plowing his car into a crowd of activists in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, killing one person and injuring 19, was denied bail Monday in his first court appearance.

James Alex Fields Jr., 20, appeared via a video link from Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail and was held on multiple felonies in the incident that occurred during a white supremacist rally that saw clashes between protesters and counter-protesters.

Prosecutors did not detail the evidence against the Maumee, Ohio, man who came to Virginia to attend the rally, according to his mother, who spoke over the weekend.

Fields is charged with one count of murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run.

A few hours after the court hearing, President Donald Trump responded to the violence by singling out the KKK, neo-Nazis and other white supremacists as "criminals and thugs . . . that are repugnant to all that we hold dear as a nation."

Trump also reiterated that the Justice Department has launched a civil rights probe into the clashes.

Earlier on Monday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in television appearances that the violence in Charlottesville met the definition of domestic terrorism.

Monday's hearing shed little light on what Sessions called an evil attack.

Fields replied "no sir," when asked in court if he has any ties to the Charlottesville community.

A former teacher of Fields has said Fields has espoused extremist ideals at least since high school. Derek Weimer, a history teacher, said in a weekend interview that he taught Fields in his junior and senior high school years in Kentucky.

Heather Heyer, 32, of Charlottesville, was killed Saturday when Fields barreled toward her and other counter-protesters in his 2017 Dodge Challenger "at a high rate of speed," rear-ended another car and pushed vehicles into a crowd of pedestrians, police said. Police said Fields then backed up and fled.

In a separate incident, two Virginia state troopers monitoring the protest were killed when their helicopter crashed in woods not far from Charlottesville.

In a written statement, Charlottesville's Commonwealth Attorney Dave Chapman said the community "is deeply saddened by the loss of Ms. Heyer and by the injuries that were sustained by many people who, like her, were doing no more than peacefully expressing their strongly held beliefs."

Chapman said final decisions on charges against Fields would be made after the Charlottesville Police Department completes an investigation.

At his appearance before Judge Robert Downer in Charlottesville General District Court, Fields said he could not afford an attorney and was appointed one by the court.

He said he has worked for about two years as a security guard in Ohio, earning $10.50 an hour and taking home about $650 every two weeks, according to income information filed with the court.

The weekend rally drew international attention to the city that is home to Virginia's flagship University of Virginia.

But in a signal of how small a community Charlottesville is, the judge informed Fields that he could not be defended by the Charlottesville Public Defender's Office because a relative of someone who works for the office had been involved in Saturday's incident, without specifying if that meant the protests or the crash.

"I'm going to make a decision that you could not have a bond until you see your attorney," the judge said in appointing Charles Weber to represent Fields.

He set 11 a.m. Aug. 25 as the next court date to consider scheduling of a preliminary hearing.

The judge asked Fields if he understood everything that had taken place, and Fields responded, "Yes, sir."

The city's decision this year to change the name of Lee Park to Emancipation Park and to order the removal of the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue from the park has made it a lightning rod for white supremacists and other extremists who see it as an attempt to erase white history.

Weber, Fields's court-appointed attorney, is one of a dozen plaintiffs in a lawsuit seeking to stop the removal of the Lee statue.

The lawsuit, filed March 20, describes Weber as Vietnam fighter pilot with "a special interest in the protection and preservation of war memorials and monuments located in the City, including those of Generals Lee and Jackson."

Those who wish to defend the statues had "no recourse but to proceed in a court of law," he told The Washington Post when the lawsuit was filed.

Trump: US ready if North Korea acts "unwisely" http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170812/GZ0113/170819868 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170812/GZ0113/170819868 Sat, 12 Aug 2017 00:06:49 -0400 By Jonathan Lemire and Eric Talmadge The Associated Press By By Jonathan Lemire and Eric Talmadge The Associated Press BEDMINSTER, N.J. - President Donald Trump on Friday again delivered a bold warning to North Korea, tweeting that the U.S. military is "locked and loaded," if the isolated rogue nation acts "unwisely," escalating an exchange of threats between the nuclear-armed nations.

American and South Korean officials said they will move forward with their annual large-scale Ulchi-Freedom Guardian military exercises later this month that North Korea claims are a rehearsal for war. Pyongyang has laid out plans to strike near the U.S. territory of Guam.

Trump tweeted Friday: "Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely. Hopefully Kim Jong-un will find another path!"

He later retweeted a posting from U.S. Pacific Command that showed B-1B Lancer supersonic bombers on Guam that "stand ready to fulfill USFK's #FightTonight mission if called upon to do so." "Fight tonight" has long been the motto of U.S. forces in South Korea, to show they are always ready for combat on the Korean Peninsula.

Trump's provocative public declarations, a break from the careful language of his predecessors, have only grown louder as the week has gone on. They included the president musing that his initial warning of delivering "fire and fury" onto North Korea - which appeared to evoke a nuclear explosion - was too timid. The days of war rhetoric have alarmed some international leaders.

"I don't see a military solution and I don't think it's called for," German Chancellor Angela Merkel said. She would not say if Germany would stand with the United States in case of a military conflict with North Korea and called on the U.N. Security Council to continue to address the issue.

"I think escalating the rhetoric is the wrong answer," Merkel added.

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, estimated the risk of a military conflict between the United States and North Korea as "very high," and said Moscow is deeply concerned.

"When you get close to the point of a fight," Lavrov said Friday, "the one who is stronger and wiser should be the first to step back from the brink."

Trump's bluster, however, stands in stark contrast to an ongoing back channel for negotiations between the United States and North Korea, which came to light Friday. It had been known the two sides had discussions to secure the June release of an American university student. But it wasn't known until Friday that the contacts have continued, or that they have broached matters other than U.S. detainees.

People familiar with the contacts say the interactions have done nothing to quell tension over North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile advances, which are now fueling fear of military confrontation. But they say the behind-the-scenes discussions could still be a foundation for more serious negotiation.

Despite tension and talk of war, life on the streets of the North Korean capital remains calm. There are no air raid drills or cars in camouflage netting as was the case during previous confrontations.

North Koreans have lived for decades with the state-run media message that war is imminent, the United States is to blame and their country is ready to defend itself. State-run media ensure that the population gets the North Korean side of the story, but they don't convey any sense of international concern about the situation.

Two days after North Korea laid out its plan to strike with ICBMs near Guam with unsettling specificity, there was no observable march toward combat. U.S. officials said there is no major movement of U.S. military assets to the region, nor are there signs Pyongyang is actively preparing for war.

As it is, the United States has a robust military presence in the region, including six Lancers in Guam and Air Force fighter jet squadrons in South Korea, plus other assets across the Pacific Ocean and in the skies above. U.S. military options range from doing nothing to a full-on conventional assault by air, sea and ground forces. Any order by the president can be executed quickly.

The U.S.-South Korea exercises are an annual event, but they come as Pyongyang says it is readying the plan to fire off four Hwasong-12 intercontinental ballistic missiles toward the tiny island of Guam, which is a U.S. territory and a major military hub. The plan would be sent to Kim for approval just before or as the U.S.-South Korea military drills begin.

The Ulchi-Freedom Guardian exercises are expected to run Aug. 21-31 and involve tens of thousands of American and South Korean troops on the ground and in the sea and air. Washington and Seoul say the exercises are defensive in nature and crucial to maintaining a deterrent against North Korean aggression.

The exercises were scheduled well before tension began to rise over new sanctions against North Korea for its nuclear and missile programs, the increasingly fiery rhetoric from both sides and North Korea's announcement of the Guam missile plan, which, if carried out, would be its most provocative launch yet. Along with a bigger set of maneuvers held every spring, the U.S.-South Korea exercises are routinely met by condemnation and threats of countermeasures from North Korea.

The heightened military activity this time is a concern because it could increase the possibility of a mishap that could spin into a more serious escalation. North Korea has been increasingly sensitive to the exercises lately because they reportedly include training for "decapitation strikes" to kill Kim Jong-un and his top generals.

Manchin possibly emerging as pick to lead US Energy Department http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170811/GZ0101/170819882 GZ0101 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170811/GZ0101/170819882 Fri, 11 Aug 2017 18:33:32 -0400 By Kevin Cirilli, Jennifer Jacobs and Steven T. Dennis Bloomberg By By Kevin Cirilli, Jennifer Jacobs and Steven T. Dennis Bloomberg Some White House and Republican officials are exploring the idea of putting West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin in charge of the Energy Department, according to four people familiar with the discussions, a move that could boost President Donald Trump's stalled legislative agenda.

If Manchin were offered and accepted the position, that would allow West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice - a newly reminted Republican - to appoint a GOP successor and bring the party a vote closer in the Senate to being able to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The idea is in the early stages of consideration, and it's unclear if it has support within the administration, according to the sources, who described the conversations under condition of anonymity.

A spokesman for Manchin would not say if West Virginia's senior senator would take the Energy secretary job - currently held by former Texas governor Rick Perry - if offered.

"Senator Manchin has not had any recent conversations with the administration about the secretary of Energy position," Jonathan Kott said. "He remains committed to serving the people of West Virginia."

Manchin, who faces a tough re-election battle in 2018, was considered for the post after Trump won election in November. His nomination fell through, in part, because Trump wouldn't assure him that he could pick his own staff, according to two people familiar with the staff selections.

Perry was named Energy secretary instead, and it's unclear if he would be open to taking another position in the administration. He has been among the candidates considered to replace John Kelly at the Department of Homeland Security, according to three people familiar with the deliberations. Kelly, who became White House chief of staff last week, and Trump haven't yet decided who should succeed him as Homeland Security secretary.

Perry has not been a seamless fit with the Energy Department, where the two most recent secretaries had Ph.Ds in physics. Perry was an animal science major at Texas A&M, and he advocated abolishing the department during his own presidential bid. The U.S. Air Force veteran was initially under consideration to lead the Pentagon under Trump.

With an annual budget of about $30 billion, the Energy Department's work ranges from safeguarding nuclear weapons to the research into carbon-capture technology and maintaining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Perry has expressed a deep interest in the nuclear security and intelligence aspects of the post, and he has become a vocal advocate for the national laboratories and for U.S. energy exports.

The ultimate goal of such a Cabinet shift would be to jump-start Trump's agenda in Congress, particularly repealing the 2010 ACA. Yet, to execute the idea and pass an Obamacare repeal, Republicans and the administration would have to pull off a highly choreographed series of events. Perry would have to agree to take another job, the Senate would have to confirm Manchin as Energy secretary, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would then have to bring a repeal bill back up without losing any of the 49 Republican senators who voted for the so-called "skinny repeal."

Some of those senators, however, like Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, said they were only voting for the bill to bring it to negotiations with the House. Other Republicans, like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, are working on a bipartisan fix.

Moreover, Manchin would face intense pressure from fellow Democrats not to leave the Senate and bear some personal responsibility for a repeal of the ACA.

Manchin has said in interviews that he warned Trump personally that people in his state who gained insurance under the law don't know who gave it to them, but would surely know who took it away.

Earlier this month, Trump appeared at a political rally in Huntington, where Justice announced that he was changing parties from Democrat to Republican. Justice was a Republican before switching to Democrat for his gubernatorial run.

Manchin has sought to position himself as a political independent. In a recent interview with the Gazette-Mail, Manchin said he won't commit to Democratic policy positions just to win re-election.

"The bottom line is, if it doesn't help West Virginia, it doesn't make sense to me," Manchin told the newspaper. "Just because there's an election doesn't mean I sign on or don't sign on."

WV Attorney General Morrisey steps down as RAGA chairman http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170810/GZ0101/170819935 GZ0101 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170810/GZ0101/170819935 Thu, 10 Aug 2017 17:54:54 -0400 Jake Zuckerman By Jake Zuckerman West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey stepped down as chairman of the Republican Attorneys General Association on Thursday after just six months in the position.

According to a news release from the organization, Morrisey made the move to focus on his official duties and his 2018 U.S. Senate campaign. Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge will succeed him in the leadership role.

"It's been an honor to serve as the Chairman of RAGA during such an important time and help contribute to its success," Morrisey said in the news release.

RAGA's executive director, Scott Will, managed Morrisey's 2012 campaign.

"During Morrisey's time as chair, RAGA broke funding records, recruited A-level candidates in targeted states and promoted the good work of the Republican AGs in defending the rule of law and the principles of federalism," Will said in an email.

Morrisey is battling for a primary nomination with U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins to run in the 2018 general election.

A fortunate series of events cleared the way for Morrisey to reach the association's top spot. First, President Donald Trump tapped then-Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., to serve as his attorney general. That led RAGA's then-chairman, Luther Strange, to take over Sessions' Senate seat, leaving the RAGA spot open for Morrisey.

RAGA bolstered Morrisey's campaign before he reached the chairmanship. In his 2016 re-election bid, the organization - through its Mountaineers Are Always Free PAC - contributed more than $6.8 million to his campaign by way of independent expenditures.

According to data from the Center for Responsive Politics, some of RAGA's top donors include the Judicial Crisis Network, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Las Vegas Sands Corp., Blue Cross Blue Shield, Ariel Corp. and Koch Industries.

If Morrisey were to win the general election, he would need to step down from his attorney general seat, leaving Gov. Jim Justice to appoint a replacement.

Although prevailing wisdom once held that Justice, elected as a Democrat, would appoint a Democrat to the office, his recent return to the Republican party has clouded any assumptions.

In June, Jenkins went on the offensive, calling on Morrisey to bow out of the race, to give voters the four years that were expected and to prevent the appointment of a Democrat as attorney general.

When asked for an update on Jenkins' thinking in light of the party switch, a spokesman for the campaign said that, although the premise is somewhat deflated, a key aspect of it holds true.

"If he were to win, you'd have an appointed replacement," said Andy Sere, a spokesman for the Jenkins campaign. "That's not fair to the voters of West Virginia. I still think the point remains that, if Morrisey were to win, West Virginia voters would have no voice in his successor. That's not the way the democratic process should work."

Nachama Soloveichik, a spokeswoman for Morrisey's campaign, offered this statement: "Attorney General Morrisey will continue working hard every single day to end West Virginia's terrible opioid epidemic, fight federal overreach, uphold the rule of law, protect consumers, and advance conservative values."

Republicans control 29 of 50 attorney general seats in the country.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.

FBI conducted predawn raid of former Trump campaign chairman Manafort's home http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170809/GZ0101/170809660 GZ0101 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170809/GZ0101/170809660 Wed, 9 Aug 2017 10:30:30 -0400 By Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman The Washington Post By By Carol D. Leonnig, Tom Hamburger and Rosalind S. Helderman The Washington Post FBI agents raided the Alexandria, Va., home of President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman late last month, using a search warrant to seize documents and other materials, according to people familiar with the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Federal agents appeared at Paul Manafort's home without warning in the predawn hours of July 26, the day after he met voluntarily with the staff for the Senate Intelligence Committee.

The search warrant was wide-ranging and FBI agents working with special counsel Robert Mueller departed the home with various records.

The raid came as Manafort has been voluntarily producing documents to congressional committees investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election. The search warrant indicates investigators may have argued to a federal judge they had reason to believe Manafort could not be trusted to turn over all records in response to a grand jury subpoena.

It could also have been intended to send a message to President Trump's former campaign chairman that he should not expect gentle treatment or legal courtesies from Mueller's team.

The documents included materials Manafort had already provided to Congress, said people familiar with the search.

"If the FBI wanted the documents, they could just ask [Manafort] and he would have turned them over," said one adviser close to the White House.

Josh Stueve, spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment, as did Reginald Brown, an attorney for Manafort.

The search came as Mueller has increased legal pressure on Manafort, consolidating under his authority a series of unrelated investigations into various aspects of Manafort's professional and personal life.

Manafort's allies fear that Mueller hopes to build a case against Manafort unrelated to the 2016 campaign, in hopes that the former campaign operative would provide information against others in Trump's inner circle in exchange for lessening his own legal exposure.

The significance of the records seized from Manafort's apartment is unclear.

Manafort has provided documents to both the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate and House intelligence committees. The documents are said to include notes Manafort took while attending a meeting with Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Emails show Trump Jr. took the meeting and invited Manafort after he was promised the lawyer would deliver damaging information about Hillary Clinton as part of a Russian government effort to assist his father's campaign.

Trump warns North Korea of 'fire and fury' as nuke threat worsens http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170808/GZ0113/170809671 GZ0113 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170808/GZ0113/170809671 Tue, 8 Aug 2017 20:43:17 -0400 By Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima and Anna Fifield The Washington Post By By Joby Warrick, Ellen Nakashima and Anna Fifield The Washington Post North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials concluded in a confidential assessment.

The new analysis, completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency, comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country's atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller.

The findings are likely to deepen concern about an evolving North Korean military threat that appears to be advancing far more rapidly than many experts had predicted. U.S. officials last month concluded that Pyongyang also is outpacing expectations in its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking cities on the American mainland.

While more than a decade has passed since North Korea's first nuclear detonation, many analysts believed it would be years before the country's weapons scientists could design a compact warhead that could be delivered by missile to distant targets. But the new assessment, a summary document dated July 28, concludes that this critical milestone has already been reached.

"The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles," the assessment states, in an excerpt read to The Washington Post.

The assessment's broad conclusions were verified by two U.S. officials familiar with the document. It is not yet known if the reclusive regime has successfully tested the smaller design, although North Korea officially claimed last year to have done so.

The DIA and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence would not comment for this report.

An assessment this week by the Japanese Ministry of Defense also concluded there is evidence to suggest that North Korea has achieved miniaturization.

President Donald Trump, speaking at an event at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf course, said North Korea will face a devastating response if its threats continue.

"They will be met with the fire and fury and, frankly, power, the likes of which this world has never seen before," Trump said.

Earlier Tuesday, North Korea described a new round of United Nations sanctions as an attempt "to strangle a nation" and warned that, in response, "physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength."

U.S. intelligence agencies told Fox News on Monday that they had detected the loading of two Stormpetrel anti-ship cruise missiles onto a Wonsan patrol boat on North Korea's East Coast over the weekend. It was the first time since 2014 that these types of missiles have been deployed on patrol boats, U.S. officials said.

The anti-ship missile move was more evidence that North Korea isn't listening to the diplomatic threats from the West.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said as much Monday at the 50th regional forum of the Association of Southeast Asia Nations, in the Philippines.

"The best signal that North Korea could give us that they're prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches," Tillerson said.

Kim is becoming increasingly confident in the reliability of his nuclear arsenal, analysts have concluded, explaining perhaps the young dictator's willingness to engage in defiant behavior, including missile tests that have drawn criticism even from North Korea's closest ally, China.

On Saturday, China and Russia joined other members of the U.N. Security Council in approving economic sanctions, including a ban on exports that supply up to a third of North Korea's annual $3 billion earnings.

The nuclear progress further raises the stakes for Trump, who has vowed that North Korea will never be allowed to threaten the United States with nuclear weapons. In an interview broadcast Saturday on MSNBC's Hugh Hewitt Show, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said the prospect of a North Korea armed with nuclear-tipped ICBMs is "intolerable, from the president's perspective."

"We have to provide all options, and that includes a military option," he said.

But McMaster said the administration will do everything short of war to "pressure Kim Jong Un and those around him, such that they conclude it is in their interest to denuclearize." The options said to be under discussion range from new multilateral negotiations to reintroducing U.S. battlefield nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula, officials familiar with internal discussions said.

Determining the precise makeup of North Korea's nuclear arsenal has long been a difficult challenge for intelligence professionals, because of the regime's culture of extreme secrecy and insularity. The country's weapons scientists have conducted five nuclear tests since 2006, the latest being a 20- to 30-kiloton detonation on Sept. 9, 2016, that produced a blast estimated to be up to twice that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945.

But producing a compact nuclear warhead that can fit inside a missile is a technically demanding feat, one that many analysts believed was still beyond North Korea's grasp. Last year, state-run media in Pyongyang displayed a spherical device that government spokesmen described as a miniaturized nuclear warhead, but whether it was a real bomb or not remained unclear. North Korean officials described the September detonation as a successful test of a small warhead designed to fit on a missile. Many experts were skeptical of the claim, though.

Kim repeatedly has proclaimed his intention to field a fleet of nuclear-tipped ICBMs as a guarantor of his regime's survival. His regime took a major step toward that goal last month with the first successful tests of a missile with intercontinental range.

Video analysis of the latest test led some analysts to conclude that the missile caught fire and disintegrated as it plunged back toward Earth's surface, suggesting North Korea's engineers might not yet be capable of building a reentry vehicle that can carry the warhead safely through the upper atmosphere. But U.S. analysts and many independent experts believe that this hurdle will be overcome by late next year.

"What initially looked like a slow-motion Cuban missile crisis is now looking more like the Manhattan Project, just barreling along," said Robert Litwak, a nonproliferation expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of "Preventing North Korea's Nuclear Breakout," published by the center this year. "There's a sense of urgency behind the program that is new to the Kim Jong Un era."

While few discount North Korea's progress, some prominent U.S. experts warn against the danger of overestimating the threat. Siegfried Hecker, director emeritus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the last known U.S. official to personally inspect North Korea's nuclear facilities, has calculated the size of North Korea's arsenal at no more than 20 to 25 bombs. Hecker warned of potential risks that can come from making Kim into a bigger menace than he actually is.

"Overselling is particularly dangerous," said Hecker, who visited North Korea seven times between 2004 and 2010 and met with key leaders of the country's weapons programs. "Some like to depict Kim as being crazy - a madman - and that makes the public believe that the guy is undeterrable. He's not crazy and he's not suicidal. And he's not even unpredictable.

"The real threat is we're going to stumble into a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula."

Super PACs already involved in Senate GOP primary race in WV http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170808/GZ0101/170809674 GZ0101 http://www.wvgazettemail.com/article/20170808/GZ0101/170809674 Tue, 8 Aug 2017 18:30:49 -0400 Jake Zuckerman By Jake Zuckerman With the 2018 GOP primary for a West Virginia U.S. Senate seat nine months away, super PACs are getting in the game and laying groundwork for an attack-laden campaign season.

Two of the three Republicans in the race, U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins and state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, now have the support of outside groups that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money.

Mountain State PAC, which appears to be backing Jenkins' campaign, filed its statement of organization with the Federal Election Commission on Aug. 3. Since then, it created a website rife with shots fired at Morrisey for his history as a congressional staffer and lobbyist, and pats on the back for Jenkins.

HenryAlan, a political consulting company from Dublin, Ohio, formed the organization.

No contribution or expenditure information on Mountain State is available with the FEC.

Jenkins' campaign created a separate site accusing Morrisey of being too liberal and tying him to his D.C. lobbying days. Though super PACs are not allowed to coordinate with candidate committees, the two pro-Jenkins sites prominently feature the same picture of a frowning Morrisey.

On the other side, 35th Inc., another super PAC, appears to be supporting Morrisey. The organization launched a website in May accusing Jenkins of supporting liberal interests and equating him with the incumbent, Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.

According to a midyear report filed with the FEC, 35th Inc. raised $20,506 between March 23 and June 30.

Two hefty donations comprised most of that sum. Koch Industries, an international corporation run by notorious political donors Charles and David Koch, donated $10,000. Gary Osen, a New Jersey attorney who goes after banks that fund terrorism outfits, donated another $10,000.

Of the money it has raised, the PAC has spent just more than $400 as of the filing date.

According to available data, the groups' fundraising represents a small fraction of available candidate funds. As of the end of July, Jenkins has $1.24 million in cash on hand while Manchin has $3.48 million. Morrisey has not reported any contributions as of the last filing date.

A super PAC can raise unlimited funds from corporations, unions or individuals, though it cannot work directly with or donate to a candidate's campaign. Though it must disclose its donors, it can take money from organizations that do not disclose their donors, so called "dark money."

Laid-off coal miner Bo Copley is also vying for the Republican nomination, while activist Paula Jean Swearengin is working to primary Manchin.

Reach Jake Zuckerman at jake.zuckerman@wvgazettemail.com, 304-348-4814 or follow @jake_zuckerman on Twitter.